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Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

Arlington, Virginia
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Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL REPORT, BOSTON

Arlingtonman13

Tuesday:

Arrived in Boston at 2:30 PM after a 10 hour drive. Couldn’t check in to the Taj yet because they didn’t have our room ready, and ended up waiting over an hour until we finally received our room. The Taj was an entirely different story (http://bit.ly/nOM9Lf). After we got a nap, we explored Newbury street and took the hotel car to the Prudential Center to grab a snack before our duck tour. After enjoying some Kettle Chips from Shaw’s, we hopped on the 7:00 PM duck tour. The tour was very informative, funny at times, but without being corny, and our tour guide was great! We headed up to Max Brenner’s around 8:30 PM and were seated without a reservation on the spot, though there were not any other tables open we could see. My wife and I enjoyed Brenner burgers while our son had the chicken sliders. All was great, and the bill was reasonable ($45 with tax and tip). On our way back to the Taj, we stumbled across Sugar Haven, a candy store with all you can imagine from your childhood. My son found Bit-O-Honey candies, his favorite, which we can never find anymore. He got a 1/4th pound for $4 or so and ran out of these candies in two days (which meant, of course, another trip back to Sugar Haven). Upon returning to the Taj, we got a good night’s sleep in their heavenly, but as noted in my review, hairy beds.

Wednesday:

My son awoke with discomfort in his middle finger. Our hotel experience hotel was terrible from the get-go and after a few jokes that that was the finger needed most around this hotel (yes, I know…), it soon began swelling, but wasn’t very uncomfortable according to my son. We decided to continued our day as planned. After a $45 breakfast in the Café where my wife and son both had ONE slice of French toast and I, a Belgian waffle and bacon (terribly overpriced and I make better…), we took the hotel car around 9:00 AM down to the Aquarium for a BHC whale watch cruise. The cruise left at 10:00 AM, which left us plenty of time to take pictures and explore the harbor front. The cruise was three hours and went about 50 miles out into the ocean (my son tracked it on his iPad…), I was told. I stayed on the upper deck (where I got a nice burn…) while my wife and son stayed in the A/C at a booth along the window. The boat was quite nice, but the whale watching was only okay. I enjoyed it, and we saw 6-8 different whales, but we didn’t see any tail nor did the whales jump into the sky like dolphins such as the brochure made it seem. As my son said, “the whales looked like shredded tires floating amidst the waves.” Perhaps the cruises out of Gloucester that others have enjoyed are better. Nonetheless, the cruise was relaxing, unlike most of our trip. After getting off, we walked to Sam La Grazza’s (getting lost along the way but using the Langham to help us get back on track). Let me say this was the BEST Ham sandwich I have ever had. My wife and son both got Chipotle Pastrami Sandwiches. At $30 for the entire lunch, it was perhaps the best meal of our trip. We then stopped at TJ Maxx where my wife snagged up a Natori Double Happiness Quilt for $199 ($670 at Macy’s) and then returned to the hotel, as it was in the mid 90s by this point. When we returned, my son’s finger was throbbing and swelled to 2-3 times its normal size. Frantic, my wife called the hotel concierge to ask where we could take him for his finger. She learned both Mass. General and Tufts were overflowed with patients from the heat wave and the concierge recommended a Urgent Care center on Boylston Street. We rushed down to the front, hopped in a cab where the driver refused to move because it wasn’t a fare; it was only 6 blocks. I explained that my son was hurt and it was an easy $10 so “Get movin’…” he refused and sat there, while we were in the back. Just as we were about to open the door to get out, Lindsey, the bellhop, walked up to the car and told him to go right now, as “the boy’s hurt.” He stopped his protest and took us to the CVS on Boylston street, as he did not know where urgent care was nor did he care to try to find it. We asked at CVS, but no one knew. We walked around with an address the concierge gave us and found a small listing for it on a list of about 100 in a dilapidated office building. We reluctantly took the old elevator to the 8th floor to walk into a run-down single bed office where a lady informed us they were only open on weekends. As a hotel concierge at a supposed luxury hotel, you should know better than to send an injured guest to a place like this in general. Perhaps it was an omen that they were closed. On the way back, my son’s finger turned green (gross, I know, I’ll spare you the rest) and we were so disgusted that we avoided all contact with hotel personnel. Upon returning to our room, my wife called our local hospital network and asked if she could get in touch with our doctor (it was now after 7:00 PM) and sent him a voicemail. Luckily, he got it and called us an hour later. He told us, with only a description of the injury, that he hit the finger at the cubicle and that he needed to ice it for a day (which we did all night) and then put heat on it. We went to bed, he, with ice in hand.

THURSDAY

The finger had started to “deflate,” that is, it wasn’t 3 times its normal size, just 2x. Today was our “Hahvahd” tour, and my 16-yr-old son wanted to go see the college we came to see. We grabbed pastries at Au Bon Pain (awesome, by the way) and we then took the hotel car to the BGH metro stop and went the 3 or 4 stops to Harvard Square. Right at the top was the meeting place for the tour and the guides gave us info and stickers right away. The tour was pretty pathetic, you saw no buildings, got no admissions information, just a history tour with a pretentious attitude. The guide kept saying “We are hahvahd…we are pretentious…we are elite…” We thought that they were just snobby and arrogant. My son hated the whole college and said that he could never see himself going to such an “arrogant institution of higher learning.” (Took him to Georgetown, today, by the way for the official guide and info session and that is now his school of choice! Great…close to home.) We returned to the hotel by way of the Red and Green line, with a switch at Park St., and the finger was, again, throbbing. It was 1:00 in the PM so we iced it for a bit and then went to the Massachusetts State House. The tour was terrible (our guide didn’t seem to know much) and my son’s finger was throbbing so much he asked to go back to the hotel. We went back, stopping at Cheer’s along the way for some water and pictures of the legendary Bull and Finch Pub and went back to the hotel where we got room service. After icing the finger again, we then walked down Boylston St. to Saks (my son’s favorite store…). We checked at BosTix for BMG tickets that night, but there weren’t any that were Full View, only obstructed. She said they usually sale out by 11:00 or so. After some shopping in the mall, we grabbed dinner at Au Bon Pain on the way back and were not disappointed. After expensive room service, the $22 dinner and beverages made up the difference so both meals averaged to a rather reasonable figure.

FRIDAY

We woke up early and explored Newbury street further. We went to BosTix for 10:00 opening and were first in line. We scored some great “Row B” seats for BMG that night and, from there, took the green and red lines of the “T” to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which was my son’s second favorite part of the trip. My sister-in-law was Ted Kennedy’s foreign policy advisor and my son considers JFK the greatest president in US history (but considers FDR a close second…) The video at the beginning of the trip was great, the exhibits, first class, and the view, unparalleled. We returned to the hotel by the “T” and had a light lunch, as we knew we would be going to the north end this evening. We put heat on the finger for an hour or two, as instructed by our family doctor, and then went to the North end. Driving up there is terribly tight, which I would not recommend if you have a new (or nice) car such as we…luckily, we didn’t either. But the north end was worth it! We checked out Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church we were going to go to Pizzaria Regina, but the line circled the block. We looked around, but most places couldn’t seat you for 15+ min. Continued walking till we found Mike’s Pastry, bought some goodies for after dinner (AWESOME; best canollis and cupcakes I’ve had…and I’ve been to ALL DC’s/N. Va’s cupcake joints). We walked till we ended up at a Whole Foods on Cambridge St, where we bought a Pizza to eat outside. The man who made it for us was very understanding of my son’s lactose intolerance and even changed gloves for us! From there, We went to BMG where we were floored by the performance and agreed, unanimously, that it was the best part of our trip. A great way to end our less-than-great trip. We walked back to the Taj and our trip was over.

SATURDAY

Drove another 10 hours…whoo!

In all, we enjoyed ourselves, despite a terrible hotel and a pretentious university...sorry if I offend any Hahvahd fans!

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1. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

Good report, but was the hotel terrible because of the concierge, or did I miss something in the report.

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2. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

Thanks for the report. Sorry about your son's mishap. I hope he got better--I assume so since you didn't mention a follow-up.

As for the "fake" Harvard tour, I always thought that the whole point was satire and the kids who do the tours are trying to be funny. Obviously they're not successful.

I'm not defending Harvard by any means but I do think comparing an "official" tour to the fake Harvard tour is like comparing apples and oranges. You should have signed up for the official (free) tour.

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3. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

I agree with the input on Harvard. The tour you took was intended to be a spoof and you took it seriously.

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4. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

Read every word! Excellent details.So sorry about your son's injury. Is he ok now? Trust me I've waited both at Mass General and Beth Israel's emergency rooms in the last year and I think waiting for treatment can sometimes be more painful than the injury (JK)!

It seems most folks like the unofficial tour but we don't hear a lot about the official ones. I wonder if the official tour brings you in the buildings (when we took the Boston University tour they did not). I am surprised the State House tour was a flop. I've gone a few times in the last couple of years and enjoyed them immensely.

Glad BMG worked out on the second try. When I was down at Faneuil Hall I asked at the booth about availability and was told lots of camp groups this summer so may not be as many tickets available. Try for tickets on weekdays rather than weekends and, as you learned, get in line early.

Thank you for taking the time to report! Both Georgetown and Harvard are great schools.

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5. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

Sorry bout your sons mishap glad you had a good time as for the taxi driver i would have wrote down his number and reported him,even though it was a short fare he cannot refuse too take you.10 hour drive wow been there done that.Thanks for your TR.

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6. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

What did you think of the pizza at Whole Foods?

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7. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

Great report. Maybe the best ever. More comments later. :-)

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8. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

REPLY TO COMMENTS:

1) Karen-the concierges certainly contributed to the hotel's general "terribleness", but we experienced many other flaws throughout the duration of our stay. Housekeeping problems (hair in shower, bed, never enough towels) and the slow check in process (having to wait an hour and 15 min after a 10 hr trip and 45 min past check in time of 3:00) certainly contributed, as well.

2) Ting-perhaps you're right, the hotel concierges recommended this tour...perhaps they assumed that everyone staying at their hotel is snobby and rich and that that's what they would like. I would def. suggest the official tour next time, because anything's better than the Hahvahd tour.

3) Alan-Yes, perhaps, but I honestly believe that that was the sincere attitude of our 2 tour guides. Perhaps it's a satire, but the message doesn't carry well.

4) Mahj-Yes, the finger is getting better day-by-day. It's just black-and-blue now, thanks for your concern! Your BMG comments make sense, I guess we lucked out getting there when we did!

5) OLDIES- Yeah, I though of that, but we were too concerned with the finger to worry about one, stupid cab driver.

6) Miscricket - The pizza at whole foods was one of the best pizza's I've had in my life, honestly. They made it fresh, it was greasy, but we took a roll of Bounty to it and enjoyed it much!

7) Thomas - thank you so much for the compliment! Glad it is helpful to everyone, although subject to criticism, as always!

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9. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

The tour is meant to be satirical. Hence the overload on the pretension/arrogance factor. It's satirizing the Harvard reputation. I'm sensing you still don't get that, if you are complaining that it didn't talk about admissions to the school.

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10. Re: Boston Travel Report - Arlingtonman13

I particularly like your comments about the whale watch, which is basically the way I recall the one time I went, although i might have seen more whales than you - I found the experience kind of boring.

Regardless of whether you understood the humor of the Hahvahrd tour (or whatever it is called) I think you probably are correct in perceiving the snobbery of the students. Has anyone ever met someone who went to Harvard who didn't make sure you knew they went to Harvard within 15 minutes of meeting them? (Okay, I probably have, but someone once made that observation about Harvard alum and I have often seen the phenomenon in action).

Your problems with your son's finger makes for a very interesting trip report - sounds like you managed to have a good time despite the difficulties. Glad to hear he is better now!

Excessively long check-ins are a pain - although I think what you are saying is just that the room wasn't ready? That's an inconvenience but it does happen. Particularly annoying when you have just arrived in Madrid or London after an overnight flight - but there isn't much a hotel can do about it.

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